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The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

An aggregate of many different woodworking blog feeds from across the 'net all in one place!  These are my favorite blogs that I read everyday...


Seven String Classical Guitar: Checking the Neck Angle and Starting the French Polish

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - 2 hours 51 min ago
...the (guitar's) graceful lines and splendor of its body possessed my heart as swiftly as would the features of a heaven-sent woman suddenly appearing to become the loving companion of a lifetime.

Andres Segovia, Segovia, 1976

Binding installed, fret board glued and fretted

Much is written in guitar making books and journals about proper neck angle of a guitar, I won't delve into it here, because others have done a better job writing about it than I could.

I make my guitars in the style suggested by a 2004 Guild of American Luthiers lecture given by Eugene Clark. Part of that process is that I keep the neck and the heel block on the same plane, you draw a line along the neck in will intersect with the top at the heel block.

The top is domed in the area of the bridge. This doming adds the proper amount of "neck angle", so to speak.

In the above photo I have a 1mm thick piece of steel at the location of the first fret. 1mm represents the height of the string at that fret.

There is a 10mm thick piece of wood at the bridge location, which represents the string height at that location.

Right on the money!

I put a 2mm thick piece at the 12th fret, I am looking for 4mm clearance between that and the straight edge.

I got it and the only sanding that I needed to do on the fret board was to level it.

Pretty sweet.

Even one wash coat of shellac sure makes fiddle back maple "pop"!

Once the fret board was installed and fretted I started that wonderful task known as sanding. And sanding and sanding.

And filling in any gaps.

Then I can start laying down a wash coat of shellac.

This is some gorgeous wood...

When I first started learning how to French polish, I used a 2 pound cut of shellac. I had read that Cyndy Burton used a 2 pound so I figured I could too.

I have tried 1 1/2 pound cut and a 1 pound cut, but I have gone back to a 2 pound cut because of how quickly it builds up and for some reason it is easier for me to use.

Now that I am back at my "regular day job", I will have to make time to finish this beautiful guitar.

I don't remember when I bought the top, I think I bought it from Alaska Specialty Woods back in 2008 or 2009, it is Sitka spruce and has some wonderful characteristics to it, more show up as I put on the shellac.

I call this guitar, Novia, which is "sweetheart" in Spanish.

Enjoy the YouTube videos!

One of my favorite performers, Scott Tennant, plays one of my favorite Couperin keyboard works.

I added Rod MacKillop because I was asked recently by a client if I could make a baroque guitar.

I can, by the way.

Some of you may recognize the piece MacKillop is playing, Joaquin Rodrigo used this melody in Fantasia para un gentilhombre.

Categories: Luthiery

Happy Easter from Giant Cypress and the nuns at Ladywell...

Giant Cypress - 3 hours 32 min ago

Happy Easter from Giant Cypress and the nuns at Ladywell Convent.

Latest Shop Addition

Plane Shavings Blog - 4 hours 17 min ago
Rockwell lathe on oak stand.

Rockwell lathe on oak stand.

The old Rockwell lathe above is my second lathe. It has served me well for some years, but it had some issues. I have turned many a knob and chisel handle on this old machine. Because of it’s weaknesses when some shop money became available I decided to sell it and buy a new one.

The new Jet lathe.

The new Jet lathe.

After doing some research I settled on the new Jet 1221 with the stand. I gave up some length between centers but got a lot more machine. It is heavier and more robust and on the stand it is much more solid than the old Rockwell. It has variable speed. A feature that I really like. It is so quiet in operation that I can actually hear the tool cutting which is great feedback as to how the tool is working.

Though I did loose more than a foot of length between centers if I do get to turning furniture legs I can add a bed extension and a base extension and have more length than I gave up.

My only complaint is the soft start feature. I’m not a patient guy. When I turn the spindle on I don’t want to wait for it to get up to speed. This, however is a minor drawback I will learn to live with.

Overall the Jet is a great machine and I have no regrets on it’s purchase. Highly recommended.

As always, thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment.

Categories: Hand Tools

Inaugural Meeting of the Tidewater SAPFM chapter

Anthony Hay's, Cabinetmaker - 6 hours 50 min ago

The Society of American Period Furniture Makers has a new chapter catering to eastern Virginia and North Carolina.

First of all, a special thanks to Bill Caillet and the folks at the Norfolk Woodcraft for their hospitality and letting SAPFM use their classroom space. Also, getting woodworkers out of the shop can be a Herculean task, but thanks to Roger Hall, we had over 30 people.

Roger Hall opens the meeting.

Kaare Loftheim answers questions about the Benjamin Seaton Tool Chest. In the background to the left you can see the full chest with saw till. The chest is on permanent display in the Hay shop and if you’re interested, Jane Rees’ book on the Seaton tool chest can be purchased through The Tools and Trades History Society, www.taths.org.uk.


Ben Hobbs of Hertford, North Carolina and the 2011 Cartouche Award winner brought 2 chairs. He discussed the process of measuring a chair and important measurements used to build templates.  Mr. Hobbs has a bespoke furniture business and conducts workshops at his shop in North Carolina on building these chairs, hobbsfurniture.com 


Mr. Hobbs’ Reproduction of an Edenton, North Carolina Armchair, 1745-1765 MESDA and Colonial Williamsburg both have versions of the 18th century chair.


Kaare and I brought a van full of furniture made by the Hay shop over the years. I’m showing a drawer pulled from the Gentlemen’s writing Desk from the Hay shop wareroom.


Ray Journigan demonstrates the layout for a flame finial that sits atop a tall case clock he’s built. Ray also discussed the process of carving a swan neck pediment and matching it to the side molding. Ray teaches classes on these subjects at the Woodcraft in Norfolk.


Ray’s Clock.


Shawn Nystrom brought in his 19th century cabinetmaker’s tool chest complete with tools. It proved these things were not lightweight and portable. Forgive the comparison, but it was like a circus clown car. Tools kept coming out of this box. In the photo to the left, there are 4 trays packed with drill bits, chisels and small hand tools.

The mission of SAPFM is to pursue the following goals:

  • To create a forum for the understanding, education, and appreciation of American period furniture.
  • To develop and encourage the use of standards and ethical practices in the reproduction and conservation of period furniture
  • To offer membership to all with an interest in period furniture
  • To assist members with the identification and location of resources including people or organizations having specialized expertise
  • To conduct public exhibitions for the recognition of members’ work.

If you’re interested in information on SAPFM, goto their webpage: www.SAPFM.org 



Categories: Hand Tools

As Close to Easter Eggs as I’m Going to Get.

The Furniture Record - 9 hours 28 min ago

Well, it’s Easter here in the US, whether you are celebrating it in the religious sense, the secular sense or just annoyed because the Home Depot is closed. Not being able to send out any Easter Eggs, I will try to do the next best thing and share my pictures of painted chests.

(To bypass the expository content and go right to the photo set, click HERE.)

There seem to be four major categories of painting. First is just painting the chest to color it. Nothing artistic. Just paint.

Paint. Color. Nothing fancy.

Paint. Color. Nothing fancy.

Then there is faux graining. Making the wood look like something it isn’t. Better wood. More interesting wood. Some are more realistic. Some less so.

Simple faux graining.

Simple faux graining.

More elaborate graining. Creating a mitered panel chest.

More elaborate graining. Creating a mitered panel chest.

Decorative painting. Exploring ethnic and regional motifs.

Like this one.

Like this one.

Or this one.

Or this one.

Or this one.

Or this one.

Finally, there is what you might call the free form, abstract expressionism or “what were they thinking?” Such as:

Qué es? Yet compelling.

Qué es? Yet compelling.

Like faux graining only not quite.

Like faux graining only not quite.

Two for the price of one. Only twice as much.

Two for the price of one. Only twice as much.

You can see the entire set (now called an album) of 172 image by clicking HERE.

Soon, we will get back to the serious business of furniture exploration. But not today.

Circular Logic, Part II

James Watriss - 9 hours 36 min ago
Project X has been an utter monster in recent weeks. I hate calling it that. I'd rather come out with the name and details, but it's not my product, so I'm reluctant to say too much until it makes a debut somewhere. But this piece has required so much problem solving that it's eaten up a lot of time. Every time I solve one problem, another one pops up. It's resulted in a lot of sleepless nights, staring at the ceiling in the dark, trying to wrap my head around changing curves and angles, so I have a better understanding of what's going on. Then I have to figure out how I'm going to make all of that come together in the physical world. In theory, this piece will go into production, so I have to get it all figured out. It's forgivable to fudge a few details on a one-off piece, but once you get into multiples, the time spent correcting for errors gets magnified.

I can't wait to do a real write up on the project. I've been wrestling with some really interesting stuff, and came up with some cool solutions. But I hate reading... and writing... about abstract solutions without a meaningful context. I've had to re-invent the wheel on radius cutting, which has resulted in this series on dealing with cutting arcs and circles. I've made a lot of patterns to shape individual parts. There are some 3-way miters that are square, and some that transition into compound curves, that will be visible from all sides, so there's no room for error. I've had to re-examine accurate miter cutting several times over, as well as calibration of angle measurements. (Hence the review of the Shinwa bevel gauge.) And even once I could cut accurately, the first time I cut a test joint, it didn't come together at all. Normal 3-way miters are 45 degree angles, cut at 90 degrees to the surface. But once you move one of them away from 45 degrees, everything changes, and you get compound angles. And again, because it'll be visible from all sides, everything needs to be perfectly cut. Some of it starts to feel like a mathematical proof sometimes, because the ground work needs to be fully developed before it can be referenced in a larger work, and then there's still problem solving to be done on that higher level.

There's also going to be some work on veneered panels, possibly with marquetry in the future. There's going to be a bent lamination... and possibly a bent tapered lamination in future iterations. I'm still working out how I'm going to cleanly mount a piece of curved glass with radiused corners. And all of it has to be streamlined...

As always, the devil is in the details. So much effort goes into making everything look clean, so that the supporting elements can fade quietly into the background. But once you get gaps in the joinery, kinks in your straight lines, tearout, etc, the mistakes all stand out like a squeaky clarinet in an otherwise harmonious symphony. You'll notice nothing else.
Back to cutting curves...


So, this is where we were last time:

Sliding center point base for the band saw, and for the router table. Dog-leg scissors jig with pins to mount to a blank, for cutting inside or outside radii, with a center pin that will transfer neatly from band saw to router table. For my next trick, I wanted to use it to make a pile of identical parts to use for making a bending form. I figured that would test the system, to see how robust it was.

I'll confess here to being a little too cerebral. Mark wandered over, asked what I was up to, and pointedly remarked that I was doing things in 'long-hand.' And he was right. There are many ways to skin this particular cat, and almost all of them are much more efficient. (Make one master curve, and pattern-rout the rest from that, would be the fastest.) But I wanted to see this experiment through, and see just what I could learn from it, and how much it would do that the regular screw-through-the-center jig wouldn't.

Using the jig for cutting radii in either direction (inside or outside) is pretty simple.  Because the jig has so many holes, it's easy to find a setup that will work. But I realized pretty quickly that mounting pin placement was an X-factor. The holes for the pins are drilled at identical distances from the center, but the distance between pins is also relevant. Once the arc is laid out to locate the mounting pins, you can drill anywhere along that arc. But the chord length- the distance between the two pins- will determine how far into the blank that curve gets cut. Two different chord lengths will result in two cuts with identical radii, but different placement of that cut in the blank. It was one of those details that's obvious in hindsight, but still made me scratch my head for a minute. Since the object is to create a bending form, all of the layers must be identical, so pin placement needs to be the same on all of them.

I laid out the first blank, and set up the pin holes to be exactly the same distance from each side, and from the front edge, and drilled them using a fence and a stop block. Drill, flip, drill, and I have two holes with identical spacing from the ends and edge.

To the band saw, and then to the router table...

Initially, I'd used a smooth pin to hold the center. I switched to a threaded bolt that ended in a smooth pin to hold the pivot point/center because there was slop with just the loose pin. It only made for a difference of maybe 1/64"- 1/32" from one blank to the next, but for a bending form, everything has to be exactly the same. This was the part when Mark made the comment about doing things longhand, and flush trimming being faster. Obviously, he's right. But I wouldn't have learned about just how sloppy the pin was if I hadn't gone this way. 

With the slop issue ironed out, the final stack was just about perfect. There were inconsistencies that I could feel, but they were small enough to fix with a plane. It felt a little bit like cheating, since I was trying so hard to make the the jig accurate enough to not need to smooth anything out, but any play in the pivot point makes inconsistency unavoidable. All things considered, it's still a very accurate system. The fact that I can re-adjust the center point and take a second pass, means I can creep up on a very accurate radius for a master pattern, or on a wooden part. And with the router table,  I can make a finished curved surface that's ready for sanding.


Part 3 will go into a little more theory on dealing with radii. The form is a 2 part form, so it will have a mating piece. But cutting that means taking the convex off-cuts from the concave form, with identical but unknown radii, and finding a way to locate the mounting pins to change the radius.

Categories: General Woodworking

Nicholson Bench Project – Shellac on a workbench?

A Woodworker's Musings - 9 hours 36 min ago

We’re getting closer to finishing this thing up and putting it into everyday service.  One question has been repeatedly asked; why are you using shellac for a finish on a workbench?

The normal thinking is that shellac is for fine furniture, musical instruments, carvings and objets d’art.  And, of course, the assumption is that the surface would be too reflective and “slick” for a workbench.  But the truth of the matter is that shellac provides a durable, protective film that will withstand the harshest treatment.  Recoating and repairing a shellac finish is very, very simple; just apply a new coat over the old film, as the alcohol solvent “re-wets” and “bites” into the existing film, creating a complete bond.

But the most significant reason to select shellac as a workbench finish is that it is fast.  I was able to put on four coats in something under three hours.  It would have taken me four days to put on four coats of oil.  This may not be important when you’re first building a bench, but when you decide to recoat an existing bench, you want to be able to get the job done as quickly as possible.  Time is money.


There is, however, one caviat.  If you’re using a shellac that has any color (orange, amber, garnet, etc.), you must be careful to apply very even layers to avoid lap marks.  Witness above.  I was using amber shellac (because that what I had) and literally “throwing it on” with a big, soft brush.  You can see the lap marks on the apron.  While this does nothing to diminish the protective quality of the finish, it does wear at my artistic sensitivities.  It’s a pretty simple problem to repair.  A little sanding or scraping on the apron’s surface, and a single coat of shellac, padded on, will take care of the problem.


While “rooting” through some old finishes, I found a can of One-Shot sign painter’s gold enamel.  The last time I used this stuff was in 1976.  No one, in their right mind, would use something that old, right?  Well, I opened the can, stirred it up and it looked pretty good.  Painted up a little sample and to my surprise it dried just like it was supposed to.  So I just couldn’t resist a little “faux gilding” on the date carved into the vise chop.  And, we do plan to replace the pipe handle with something a little more “appropriate”.


Categories: Hand Tools

One Becomes Three

Woodworker's Edge - 12 hours 7 min ago
Photo courtesy of H. L. Chalfant Antiques in Wets Chester, PA

Photo courtesy of H. L. Chalfant Antiques in Wets Chester, PA

When talking about antique chest of drawers, “chest speak” often mentions drawer layout to describe a piece. You’ll read in a magazine advertisement, in an auction catalog or on a web site that it’s a three-over-five design, or a two-over-three-over four design. What is being described is the number of drawers stacked over the next bank of drawers. The first example would be three drawers set in the top row with five full-width drawers set below. The second example would have two drawer in the top row, and three drawers that make up the second row, with four full-width drawers stacked below. (The top rows are often reversed as shown in the opening photo.) Combinations are endless, but you don’t often see numbers get out of hand.

There is something to keep in mind as you look at drawer layout. Is the bank of drawers actually divided into two or three drawers, or is that a single-width drawer made to look like it’s divided? If it’s a single drawer made to look like three, what’s an easy way to duplicate that if you were building the chest? One way is to use an ovolo router bit.

An ovolo bit is similar to a roundover router bit, but there is nothing attached IMG_1599to the bit to guide it path – no pilot (that’s a throw-back design) or bearing such as what we have on most roundover bits. In the right-hand photo you can see the difference between the two different bits that basically cut the same profiles. Both router bits shown have a 1/4″ roundover profile. (Click the photo to enlarge the image.)

The way to use an ovolo bit is to first profile the edge of your drawer front using a roundover bit. Next, chuck the ovolo bit into your router, set the depth of cut to match the roundover profile, clamp a straightedge to the workpiece and run test cut. Measure the distance from your straightedge to the exact center of your ovolo profile. You’ll need that as you layout for the cut in your drawer front. (With my ovolo bit the width of the completed profile is 1″.) Layout work can be tricky. If you don’t pay attention, it’s easy to get the faux fronts a bit off in width.


Once the layout work is done, measure from the layout line to where you need to set your straightedge, clamp it in position and you’re ready to divide your drawer front. Work slow as you rout, it’s easy to flip out the profile as the router bit enters the cut.

How can you tell the drawer front is not really three individual drawers? Look closely at the vertical divider areas. You’ll see a small gap at the top of each divider if the drawer front is a single-width front and the furnituremaker was attempting to fool your eye.

Build Something Great!









Categories: General Woodworking

A Kerfing Plane in Hong Kong

The Unplugged Woodshop - Tom Fidgen - 13 hours 13 min ago
  I received a letter this week from Will, in Hong Kong. Will recently made a Kerfing Plane following the plans in my book, The Unplugged Woodshop. He used quarter sawn beech for the body, and the fence is trimmed with reclaimed teak from an...
Categories: Hand Tools

VIDEO: Hand Cut Dovetails Part 13: Clean the Pins

Wood and Shop - 14 hours 47 min ago

VIDEO 13/15 of Joshua Farnsworth’s free hand cut dovetail video series shows how to clean the pins for a tight fit with a chisel.

This is a very detailed tutorial designed to teach beginners how to become expert at dovetailing by hand. It is offered as a free resource to encourage the revival of traditional woodworking.


This detailed video series was inspired by a 5 day class that I took from Roy Underhill and Bill Anderson: world-renowned experts on traditional woodworking with hand tools.

Which traditional hand tools should you buy?

If you need advice on which hand tools to buy (and not buy), then definitely read my 13 category buying guide article: “Which Hand Tools Do You need for Traditional Woodworking?”

Shortcuts to Dovetail Videos 1-15:

And they lived happily forever after..

Mulesaw - 15 hours 27 min ago
I planed some grooves in the sides and the ends. Then I planed the bottom so that it could fit into the grooves. 
Everything was sanded and the corners were sawn of the bottom to make room for the posts.

I started by glueing up the headboard, and put in a small headless brad to reinforce things a bit. Then I did the same thing to the foot end of the bed.

The sides were attached to the posts of the headboard and the bottom was slid in. After that the foot end of the bed was attached. 

All that is needed now are a bunch on mattresses, a pea and a princess. Then the fairy tale can begin over and over again in the mind of my niece.

The fairy tale bed on the floor of the control room.

What did I learn about the build:
-It is a quick build that can be made together with children if it has to be.
-Nailing the bottom on will probably give a more stout construction, but either my bottom wasn't wide  enough, or the ends were too wide.
-A little paint and some gold enamel on the crown will make the bed more "royal", after all princesses do like pink, cream and gold colours (as far as I remember from when my daughter was younger).
-I had to struggle some to find the motivation for this build. I have to accept the fact that I prefer making chests and slightly larger pieces. So I guess that I will have to give in to that feeling and start making something along those lines.

Categories: Hand Tools

Wood - Delhi’s Vast Timber Market

The Indian DIY & Woodworker - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 8:22pm

The north western end of New Delhi is home to what must be the country’s largest timber market. The market is situated in the outskirts of the city along the Rohtak Road at a place called Nangloi. 

Nangloi Timber Market (Delhi)

I decided to explore the place with fellow woodworker Joel Michalski, a American from Wisconsin who is currently in Delhi on assignment. The two of us took the Delhi Metro and after a couple of changes got on to the line that ends at a place called Mundka. The market starts near the Nangloi stop and continues several kilometres till Mundka and beyond. 

From the Metro coach we could see miles and miles of warehouses full of timber of various kinds. There were trucks loading and unloading and containers at places. 

Timber Warehouse

Almost all the wood sold here is imported and comes in straight from the ports in Gujarat. Hundreds of large importers get shiploads of timber and distribute them all over north India.  This is one reason why bulk buyers prefer to pick up their requirements from here.

Unloading Timber

We found that the bulk of the wood being imported these days is cheap Meranti, Pine and similar varieties. These cost between `500 and 700 a cubic feet.

A Large Timber Stockist

The bigger yards stock a wide variety of more expensive African, Burma and Nagpur teaks as well as some Western species such as Red Oak, Ask and Maple. These are significantly more expensive and the best Burma Teak, for instance, can cost as much as `3800 a cubic foot.

Variety of Wood Species

It felt great to be in these huge timber yards with their aroma of fresh wood. Joel took a bunch of photos which he agreed to share. All the photos are by him.

A Bandsaw in Operation

Indranil Banerjie
20 April 2014
Categories: Hand Tools

West Dean Dovetailing Course.

David Barron Furniture - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 8:06am

I've been preparing for the forthcoming course and this is what we will be making.
The box carcass is beech and the lid is spalted beech. The sides have all been cut to size and I've grooved them to accept the base, this allows the students to get straight into the dovetailing without spending time on stock preparation.

The end grain beech gives a nice contrast which shows off the dovetails without being too showy.

The lid simply tilts to open, which is very discreet, if anyone prefers adding a handle this can be accommodated.

The inside of the box will be lined to support the lid, involving plenty of use of the shooting board.
I expect everyone to complete this project in the two days, so for those of you coming please make sure your tools are sharp so that we can crack on from the start!

Categories: Hand Tools

Rose Tools scanned catalog archive added to Articles

Blackburn Tools - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 6:06am

Rose Tools put an extraordinary amount of time and effort into scanning a number of catalogs over the years. While the original website hosting this resource has been taken down, Rose Tools has given permission to host them on the Articles page of my website (and elsewhere). Donna Rose Allen still maintains an active website devoted to quality new and old tools.

The scanned catalogs represent a large sampling of tools from approximately 50 different companies, and spans nearly a century of manufacturing. They are an invaluable primary source of information for both common and uncommon tools.


A big thanks goes out to Mark Stansbury of FoleyFiler.blogspot.com for doing the heavy work in saving these catalogs, and to Donna Rose for making the scans available.

Rose Tools scanned catalog archive

Categories: Hand Tools

I do it wrong

The Saw Blog - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 6:06am






There. I said it. I file saws the wrong way. I  feel better.

You must be wondering what the heck I’m talking about. Let me catch you up…

Some history:

The old texts on saw filing are clear. They indicate you should never file a saw only from one side. They all unanimously say that you should file every other tooth and then flip the saw around in the vise and file the teeth you skipped from the other side. I don’t do that. I file a saw all from the same side. Why? Because when I was learning to file saws, that was the way that made sense to me. And I’m certainly not the only one…many saw makers and saw filers today file all from one side. I can’t honestly remember what possessed me to start filing this way…it certainly wasn’t my idea.

As I’m writing an article for Popular Woodworking Magazine on saw sharpening, I find myself thinking more and more about this topic (thanks to the good-nature antagonizing of my friend Carl).

But what are the reasons to NOT file a saw that way? I have heard a few…

1) Filing from one side of the saw dulls the file faster because you have to file into the teeth leaning towards you, which causes more wear on the file teeth.

I think this is a silly point. The gullet edge of the file is what wears out first and destroys a file. The extra wear to the face edges is completely irrelevant…they stay intact long after the file is useless regardless of how you file teeth.

2) Filing from one side of a saw alone puts all of the filing burrs on the opposite side of the saw teeth and will cause the cut to steer to that side when the saw is used.

I have filed hundreds of saws. The only case where I have found the above argument to be true is in dovetail saws and similar saws spaced 14 points and finer. These saws have fine teeth that can be affected by the burr, but an extra side jointing pass or two on the burr side of the tooth is a simple remedy. The burr created on teeth coarser than 14 points are unaffected…I’ve found that they are large enough to overcome any discrepancy.

3) You cannot create saw teeth with independently shaped back bevels (sloped gullets) filing from one side of the saw.

I would say this is mostly true. But for 95% of woodworkers, I don’t think it makes any difference filing independent back bevels on your teeth. For most work, the benefit is negligible. Can you gain a small advantage in your work with independently shaped back bevels? Sure. But to me, its like the difference between a Corvette and a Ferrari. Is it really worth it? I don’t think so.

This whole argument may be like the tails vs. pins first argument with dovetailing: it’s simply a matter of preference and opinion. There is more than one way to skin a cat. And I love skinning cats. :)

But as much as I like torturing small domestic pets, I like free thinking all the more. Because I am stubborn, naive, and foolish, any wisdom I have gained in life has come from making so many mistakes that success was the only option remaining. What drives me in my business and in craft is the hope that I never stop learning, never stop improving and never stop questioning tradition. I would rather be comforted by a small token of marginal truth hard-won through years of trial and error than bask in the glory of unimaginable wealth blindly accepted from a benevolent master.

What the heck does that mean? I like doing it wrong. Wrong feels right to me.





Categories: Hand Tools

Don’t Fret, it’s Just a Saw

The Unplugged Woodshop - Tom Fidgen - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 5:48am
  In the last video post, the Good Dr.’s Medicine Chest Part Six, the interior panels were sawn using a Fret Saw. Fret saws, and fret sawing, are one of those mysterious techniques that until you try it, may seem a little daunting. Sure, we’re...
Categories: Hand Tools

Marc Adams Fundamentals of Woodworking Class

Mary May, Woodcarver - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 5:16am

Mary May - Woodcarver

I just finished teaching a challenging but very fun class on the Fundamentals of Woodcarving at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Indianapolis, Indiana. These classes at Marc’s can be pretty intense because of the size (18 students) and the length of class (5 days).

It was a great group of students and they tackled some difficult projects, challenging wood, and long hours. We had a lot of fun along with a lot of carving.

I will be teaching a class again at Marc Adams on Classical Relief Carving August 4 – 8. There might be spaces still available and this is open to beginning carvers.

Rick and Robert diligently working.
David showing off his happy worms - first lesson on learning to work with the grain and get to know the tools.
Carving the camellia (can't carve too many of these!)
Is that a smile or grimace? Tim showing how to hand-carve (or is that carve-hand?)
Close-up of the "hand-carving class". Don't try this at home!
Andy's collection of beautiful mallets (recognize the brass one on the right?).
Bjorn's letter carving in mahogany.
Fan carving in mahogany.
A collage of relief carvings.
More completed carvings - and LOTS of shavings.
Andy's flamingo tool roll.
Linenfold carving in basswood.
Shell carving in mahogany.
Jim ventured into new designs in basswood on the last day.

He Said it Was a Pirate Ship

The Workbench Diary - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 5:09am

When I got to the studio the next morning after shop night, I found Eden's construction plans. He says that the Xs are areas that he "needs to repair".
Categories: Hand Tools


Paul Sellers - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 3:14am


…You know the rest.

DSC_0174We had a plane take (blast) off yesterday as we closed the week’s work for a UK Holiday Weekend. Penrhyn Castle was brimming with holiday people coming to the beautiful North Wales mountains and seaside and many stayed here at the Castle all day long. DSC_0201We inside the Castle and in between bouts of filming and spreading the good news about our work to visitors, peeled off shavings with the different trial planes we prepped for our research and subsequent filming. The weather was cool but bright with clear blue skies. Just what people need for a few days away.

DSC_0225DSC_0179This week we’ve replaced or repaired chisel handles, on every type of chisel there is for my next book, we’ve restored many bench planes, recut, reshaped and sharpened saw teeth on old saws and tested out new saws from the Sheffield saw makers Thomas Flinn. Each day we have filmed and written updates on our findings and also started preparing for our next series for woodworkingmasterclasses. DSC_0161


Yesterday, as people prepare for Easter egg hunts and parents try to keep up with their youngsters, I found myself snatching time to slip intentionally into those deep pockets of self arresting. In busy work lives this is difficult because someone is buying your time second by second. Snatching reflection becomes very important and I ask myself what it is that really matters to me and possibly others. I mean, here in a world we woodworkers retreat to from the daily onslaughts of our modern life, isn’t it important to make re-creative time worth something no one can buy. Personally I find it ever more consequential to find parallels in my work that remain in the realms of the real yet provide a way to escape the non-skill world of artificiality that seems to me ever increasing. Still, making alone seems always to give me that respite and so I am thankful I can pursue my work in a way I find gives me critical meaning and wellbeing and not only for me but many, many others.

DSC_0185I confess that in any given day, as I work at my bench, I find myself immersed in gradients of unconsciousness as my work gains significance and as I cut and define shapelessness into shape. In this I lose awareness to my periphery and my subconscious loses all reference to my surroundings. I want in essence to compose what I make and all else to become distant and blurry, even the people I am with or who walk into the visitor part of my workshop fade out of focus and my work seems then fully isolated as under a microscopic as I separate the cells of xylem and reform my psyche to make sense in an otherwise insane world. These are rare and treasured spheres, moments immeasurably extended in pockets of creativity when and where time stops for inestimable moments, minutes and hours and ticking clocks cannot measure. Irretrievable mustering of synchrony where absorption defies finance and economy, concern and health, those things around which the world seems destined to destroy. Parents find it in lifting toddling children from grass to sun and a smile in two eyes trusting the newfound height is theirs for a moment. In a child resting in cuddled envelopment in the peace of trust before a world soon to snatch it from them as they grow to transitioning teenage years and a world of adulthood. These spheres are periods when it seems that the whole of creation is waiting to reveal something to us that separates us from all that we measure and calculate and store and save to be away from it in a dimension we never knew existed outside of being a small and innocent child.


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Categories: Hand Tools

VIDEO: Hand Cut Dovetails Part 12: Remove the Pin Waste

Wood and Shop - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 3:05am

VIDEO 12/15 of Joshua Farnsworth’s free hand cut dovetail video series shows how to remove the pin waste using a coping saw, chisel, and wooden mallet.

This is a very detailed tutorial designed to teach beginners how to become expert at dovetailing by hand. It is offered as a free resource to encourage the revival of traditional woodworking.


This detailed video series was inspired by a 5 day class that I took from Roy Underhill and Bill Anderson: world-renowned experts on traditional woodworking with hand tools.

Which traditional hand tools should you buy?

If you need advice on which hand tools to buy (and not buy), then definitely read my 13 category buying guide article: “Which Hand Tools Do You need for Traditional Woodworking?”

Shortcuts to Dovetail Videos 1-15:


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by Dr. Radut